Phil Hassey has had some success on the App Store with the popular Galcon, and last week at GDC in San Francisco, he was showing off a game that's actually been in development for quite a while. Anathema Mines, Hassey says, actually has some ideas he's been playing with for a long time, dating all the way back to a few game jams as early as 2005. He's finally reached the point, however, where the idea of the game is solid enough for a release, and Anathema Mines is aiming to arrive on Steam for PC and Mac first, and then the Mac App Store and eventually an iOS version as well.
The title is a moody, 2D stealth level-based affair. Your little character is dropped into what looks like a cave at first with nothing at all, and then you're eventually given a flashlight and bombs as items. Bombs can be used to both blow up walls and even shape the level itself, by clearing out cave areas in circular blasts. By the end of the first of 30 levels, however, you run into a guard, and that's where the game's stealth elements come in.
Guards in the mines will shoot on sight, and there's no health bars: If you're seen, you're done. So the goal becomes to watch the guards' lines of sight as you go, sneaking around as carefully as you can, trying to find the level's exit.
On my first playthrough, I quickly learned that guards were attracted to the sound of bombs going off, and it's easy enough, with just one guard around, to set up a trap and clear them out of the way. But of course later levels get more and more complicated, and each level you're charged with re-finding your items -- Hassey says he likes that sense of being a little lost every time the level starts up. In a later level, I had to clear out three different walls by grabbing a series of colored ID cards, and each card required a different technique to clear past the guards, from simply sneaking around to distracting them with bomb blasts.
Anathema Mines is fun and a little spooky -- the game's tense stealth action goes well with the dark graphical schemes. Hassey says he plans for the final game to have about 30 levels, though not all of them are quite done yet. And he says he's had a "fun time making it so that every single light impacts the gameplay." Later in the game, there are apparently Cave Trolls that will charge you directly -- unless you have your flashlight on to push them away.
Sounds good. Anathema Mines will be out, says Hassey, "when it's done."